Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Request For Transparency On The City’s Electronic Taxicab Waybill Implement. By John Han.

Photo by John Han.
(This is a shortened version of the previous posted entitled, "Waybills - How About A Responsible Government To Administer Them?")  

A traditional taxicab waybill is a paper trip sheet on which drivers are required to log fare amounts, tips, locations, and times of pick ups and drop offs, etc.

Up until around the late 70’s, when taxi drivers were employees, cab companies relied upon properly filled out waybills mainly to base income tax deductions and paycheck amounts.  Today, “independent contractor” taxi drivers are still required by local governments to complete waybills for other purposes, though those purposes are more anecdotal and not necessarily stated.

Amidst the heated controversy over the advent of electronic waybills vs. paper waybills, San Francisco should issue a valid policy statement, unequivocally expressing the primary purposes of taxicab waybills and its reasons for requiring them, especially as they are being transitioned into electronic format.  And, that statement should be accessible for public viewing, including in a PDF file for example, on a government website. 

The City must outline the criteria for specifically relaying what the data and information on electronic waybills could and could not be used for, why the City’s gathering it, and what persons and/or entities could be entitled to access that data, etc., including other government agencies, third parties, or advertisers.

For example, if the City wants to require electronic waybills to gather census data for transportation studies, then it must officially state that in a report and issue it to the public as a primary reason for the waybill requirement. 

Or, if the City were to require waybills to aid in law enforcement, it must be made to state that in a report as a primary reason. 

The City should additionally issue a valid privacy policy and fully disclose to the taxi industry, but also to the general public, how information from electronic waybills would be disseminated, as electronic waybills involves tracking human movement, and personal and non-personal information.

Such a policy statement and privacy disclosure could help to ensure accountability that any third parties would not be wrongfully entitled to information for unwarranted purposes, such as advertising or marketing, and could also determine whether there should be a raised concern for persons such as undocumented immigrants conceivably living and working in San Francisco, to be subjected to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and deportation, while other persons may be investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, through electronic waybill tracking. 

Developing a valid waybill policy should be done with public transparency and discussions.

If such a government statement on waybill policy already exists, then taxi drivers must be informed as to where it is and be able to easily obtain copies of it.  If such a statement doesn’t exist however, then San Francisco must draft it, and do it in the full disclosure of the public. 

Otherwise, waybills should no longer be required, but should be implemented by drivers on a voluntary basis.  


  1. Why does the City need the info, beyond to verify the # of hours a particular driver has driven... toward his Driving Requirement fulfillment.??

    All the other stuff should be private.

    jack barry, former Commissioner

  2. That's an excellent question Jack. Thanks for asking. That's the same thing we're asking.

  3. Since cab drivers are not public employees, I suggest electronic waybill-type devices be placed in police cars to track their activites. We constantly hear that crimes can't be solved due to lack of personnel. Maybe there are plenty of cops, but they are not using their time efficiently. I've seen eight cops surround a drunk at a BART station. Do we need eight cops for that? After a traffic collision, cops walk around taking measurements at the scene. Do we need highly trained police officers essentially working for insurance companies, or should their time and effort go toward protecting and serving the public. Try waybills for cops and see he a union reacts.
    All public employees should have electronic waybills, and only public employees should have them. Any public employee driving a City-owned vehicle should have to account for their time and whereabouts.
    It is joke to think that a waybill is going to aid in the capture of a criminal. Maybe in a 1940's B-movie, but in real life, no. The most frequent use of a cabbies waybill by the police is to give a warning or citation for having it filled out improperly. It is an antiquated waste of time and I agree it should be voluntary.

  4. John, as we in the business say... "Bingo!"

  5. you are awesome my man thank you for the great piece of writing. It is rational and very defend able.
    You just stated the truth.

  6. Thanks man! Glad to see it's appreciated.


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